Donald Runnicles is the General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival (Jackson, Wyoming), as well as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He was named Conductor Emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, having served as its Chief Conductor from 2009-2016.
Maestro Runnicles enjoys close and enduring relationships with several of the most significant opera companies and orchestras and is especially celebrated for his interpretations of Romantic and post-Romantic symphonic and opera repertoire which are core to his musical identity.
As General Music Director of Deutsche Oper since 2009, Donald has primary responsibility for the musical forces of this historic company which produces each season an average of twenty-five productions and more than two hundred performances. Recent highlights include the premiere of Das Rheingold as part of an ambitious new Ring Cycle, as well as a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which continued Runnicles’ Britten cycle at the house. He has also conducted a number of revival titles and brought the company to the Edinburgh Festival in a performance of Manon Lescaut.
Donald regularly conducts concerts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
For 17 seasons Sir Donald was Music Director of the San Francisco Opera (1992-2008). During his tenure, he led more than sixty productions including the world premieres of John Adams’s Dr. Atomic and Conrad Sousa’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, as well as the U.S. premieres of Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise and Aribert Reimann’s Lear. At the close of his tenure, he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, previously given to luminaries such as Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Plácido Domingo, and Sir Charles Mackerras.
Sir Donald’s extensive discography includes complete recordings of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Mozart’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Britten’s Billy Budd, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. His recording of Wagner arias with tenor Jonas Kaufmann and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin won the 2013 Gramophone prize for Best Vocal Recording, and his recording of Janáček’s Jenůfa with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2020 and holds honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.